Both RTÉ One and RTÉ2 continue to shine a light on who we are as a people with a broad range of programming reflecting every aspect of living in Ireland.
Leading off this year’s factual programming on RTÉ One is a series of documentaries tackling inequality in Ireland with Dr Eva Orsmond asking whether where you are born and raised dictates your life expectancy in Ireland’s Health Divide; Joe Duffy exploring how where you went to school impacts your life in The Classroom Divide; and Philip Boucher Hayes tackling how we work and what we earn in What Are You Working For?
Other highlights include:
* Haunted – Revealing documentary on the life of IRA volunteer Dolours Price.
* No Country for Women – Two part documentary looking at the relationship between women and the Irish State over the past 100 years, from restricting their ability to work to blocking access to fertility control.
* The Axel Foley Story – One year on from his untimely passing, this documentary celebrates Axel Foley and his journey from a working class Limerick suburb to the pinnacle of international rugby.
* The Game – A definitive history of hurling in three-parts produced in partnership with the BAI and the GAA
* Baz Ashmawy explores the topic of gambling in a probing new documentary.
* We Won the Lotto – With the Lotto celebrating 30 years this year, this documentary meets some of the winners who scored really big and goes behind the scenes at Lotto HQ as one of the country’s newest millionaires arrives to collect their winnings.
* Shergar – Thirty years on from Shergar’s infamous disappearance, this documentary charts his extraordinary story with starring roles for an IRA supergrass who believes he knows what happened, and a Sunday Telegraph racing correspondent who thought he was going to die.
* Golden – One hour documentary about couples in Ireland who have been married for over 50 years. Each couple will share the ups and downs of over a half century of love.
* Fab Vinnie – Thirty years on from his death, this Irish language documentary looks at Vincent Hanley’s story both in front of the camera as host of the cutting edge MT USA and his journey from small town Ireland to the bright lights of the Big Apple.
RTÉ2 viewers can expect a broad range of documentaries from the insightful and groundbreaking to the entertaining and tongue-in-cheek. Highlights include:
* Schizophrenia: The Voices in my Head – Tracking the daily lives of Irish people living with schizophrenia, a first for Irish television.
* My Trans Life Groundbreaking series following the lives of young transgender people in Ireland as they transition
* Trauma – Life and Death in A&E – Four-part series giving viewers unprecedented insight into the challenging, exciting, stressful world of medical emergencies at four Irish hospitals.
* Vogue – in this three part series, Vogue Williams looks at sperm donation, sugar daddies and, the epidemic of our time, anxiety.
* Irish in Wonderland – Sherlock star Yasmine Akram meets the Irish people making their own fortune serving the super-rich
* Alison Spittle’s Culchie Club – Westmeath born comedian Alison Spittle travels across Ireland looking for answers as she investigates what makes a Culchie a Culchie
* The Rich List – Joe O’Shea guides viewers through the top 30 billionaires and millionaires who make up this year’s Sunday Times Rich List, revealing what it takes to join this exclusive club.
This September, RTÉ Prime Time celebrates 25 years as a window on the most dramatic events that have shaped Irish lives over the past quarter of a century. In two special programmes, RTÉ Prime Time will feature the most unforgettable moments from that tumultuous time, and debate whether those events have created a better or worse for Ireland.
This autumn also sees the return of Claire Byrne Live with more live studio debate and a bigger investment into RTÉ Investigates.
Ireland’s Natural Wonders and Science
This year viewers can look forward to stunning nature and series which shine a light on Ireland’s landscape and natural resources along with high quality science and education programming for all the family.
* Ireland’s Deep Atlantic – Filmed off the west of Ireland, this three part series reveals, for the first time, the astonishingly beautiful ocean floor off our coast.
* Great Lighthouses of Ireland illustrates our dependence on the sea, our battle with the elements, the engineering, history, science and above all the people behind these extraordinary buildings.
* WeatherWatch Live – major three part family-focussed television event in Science Week looking at the subject that obsesses us all – Ireland’s weather. Taking in everything from the climate to topography, WeatherWatch Live is wholly interactive with input from across the country offering an insight into Ireland’s weather systems.
* 700 Light Years from Birr examines the story of one of the world’s most advanced telescopes arriving in Ireland.
* Hardest Harvest (WT) – New three-part series plunging an Irish farmer, forester and fisherman into the harsh realities of living off the land and sea in Mozambique, joining families and communities as they survive on subsistence resources in the developing world.
* It’s a Park’s Life is a four-part series which goes behind the scenes of Dublin’s Phoenix Park with the characters who make the 350-year-old park tick and those who call it home.
* An Teorann – A two-part series giving a breathtaking birdseye view of the border before swooping down to tell the stories of this often forgotten part of our island.
* Awake – The Science of Sleep Dr Pixie McKenna investigates sleep, meeting the scientists trying to uncover its deep secrets and the Irish people who struggle with it.
* Will a Robot Steal my Job – With relentless advances being made in the world of artificial intelligence, Anne-Marie Tomchak looks at how automation is changing the nature of the traditional jobs market and looks at how society can best make this change work to its advantage.
Bringing uniquely Irish stories to the screen at home and internationally remains a priority for RTÉ with three drama series airing or going into production this season:
* Acceptable Risk – Elaine Cassidy stars in this brand new six-part series about a woman who discovers all is not as it seems when her husband is murdered. Filmed in Dublin and Vancouver it also stars Angeline Ball (Redwater), Lisa Dwyer Hogg (The Fall) and Morten Suurballe (The Killing).
* Striking Out – Amy Huberman and Neil Morrissey are back with a six part series of the IFTA winning hit legal drama with Moe Dunford (Vikings) and Maria Doyle Kennedy (Redwater) joining this year’s cast.
* Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope – The critically acclaimed darkly comic drama returns for a second season, written by Stefanie Preissner. (RTÉ2)
* Fair City – The drama continues on Ireland’s most watched soap with Carol spiralling out of control as she comes to terms with Trigger’s death. This year Fair City welcomes its first transgender character and there’s a shock in store for the residents of Carrigstown as some familiar faces return to ruffle feathers.
Drama fans can also look forward to Brendan Gleeson’s critically acclaimed serial killer thriller Mr Mercedes, along with returning favourites including Vikings, Homeland and Doctor Foster. On RTÉ2 a new season of foreign drama gives Irish viewers a first look at series two of Norwegian detective series Mammon, Danish thriller Below the Surface and the latest from Borgen creator Adam Price, Ride Upon the Storm
Entertainment and Comedy
RTÉ continues to bring the family together for big entertainment, following its hugely successful debut earlier this year Dancing with the Stars returns with a whole new set of celebrities hoping to hot foot their way to the glitterball trophy when the show comes back in January.
The Late Late Show kicks off the new season when it returns on September 1st and, of course, the biggest show on Irish television, The Late Late Toy Show is back for more memorable moments. The Late Late Toy Show Unwrapped will take viewers behind the scenes of the most popular Irish TV event of the year. There’s plenty more chat in store this season as The Ray D’Arcy Show, Brendan O’Connor’s Cutting Edge, and Today with Maura and Daithí return to RTÉ One screens.
Continuing RTÉ2’s commitment to supporting and developing comedy talent is a strong slate of new shows including:
* Nowhere Fast – six-part comedy about the boomerang generation written and starring comedian, Alison Spittle and also starring Clare Monnelly (Moone Boy) and Genevieve Hulme Beaman (Pondling) and Cathy Belton (Red Rock/Roy).
* The Young Offenders – the hit Irish movie comes to the small screen in this six part series, filmed on location in Cork and starring Alex Murphy and Chris Walley. Commissioned by BBC3 and BBC comedy in association with RTÉ.
* Ends Meet – RTÉ’s first ever adult animation series, this six-part comedy features a working class Dublin family.
* The School – three-part mockumentary series from sketch group ‘CCCahoots’ about a primary school preparing their Nativity play.
* Senior Moments – three-part series featuring some of Ireland’s more mature citizens playing hilarious pranks on their younger counterparts.
RTÉ2 favourites returning include Jennifer Zamparelli and Bernard O’Shea back to wreak more havoc on the 80s in a third series of Bridget & Eamon; and The Hardy Bucks. Over on RTÉ One, Brendan O’Carroll brings viewers two Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas specials as well as his hit chatshow All Round to Mrs Brown’s.
Arts, Culture and Features
Gabriel Byrne tackles the life and legacy of one of Ireland’s greatest writers in My Astonishing Self: Gabriel Byrne on George Bernard Shaw; and Oscar-winner Anjelica Huston presents a landmark film on the extraordinary life of James Joyce in James Joyce: A Shout on the Street. In Countdown to Calvary Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville travels to Israel to tell the story of the week that changed the world – the last six days of Jesus Christ’s life.
National Treasures, a major social history series produced in conjunction with the National Museum of Ireland, will travel to all four corners of Ireland in search of the ordinary objects from homes across the country that have big – and little – stories to tell about who we are and how we have changed as a people. The objects gathered will subsequently make up an exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life in Turlough, Co Mayo.
A feature 100 years in the making, Citizen Lane documents the story of Hugh Lane’s battle to establish the world’s first public modern art gallery and Eavan Boland celebrates the life of one of Ireland’s greatest poets.
In four part series Línte Ceoil Cheiltigh – The Celtic Songlines, Dónal Lunny follows the Celtic songlines on an epic journey of musical discovery along Europe’s western coasts.
Returning this season are Painting the Nation, presented by Pauline McLynn, which searches for Ireland’s best amateur artist; and arts magazine series The Works Presents…
In association with the Irish Film Board, RTÉ2 will host a regular slot dedicated to Irish film with premieres of RTÉ supported movies to include: The Young Offenders and Handsome Devil.
Lighter side of life
Wedding guru Franc makes his return to RTÉ with hit format Say Yes to the Dress as RTÉ turns its eye to the lighter side of Irish life. Other new highlights include:
* Dermot Bannon’s Superhomes – Ireland’s favourite architect is back with a new series where he travels to America for a two-part series looking at American superhomes. Room to Improve returns after its most successful season yet with new clients including Daniel and Majella O’Donnell.
* This Crowded House – Brendan Courtney presents this four-parter giving over-25s still living at home the nudge they need to fly the nest.
* The Great House Revival – Home of the Year’s Hugh Wallace follows six ambitious home restoration projects across the country.
* Frock Finders – Six-part series following people as they search for the perfect outfit for a variety of special occasions.
* David Brophy’s Choir of Ages – after the success of the High Hopes Choir, conductor David Brophy puts together a choir of primary school kids and senior citizens.
* Salon Confidential – Four-part series for RTÉ2 set in a Dublin salon where the hairdressers and barbers not only revamp customers’ hair, they restyle their life.
* Raised by a Village – Two troublesome teenagers swap city life and their parents’ rules for a two week dose of discipline Irish village style.
* Celebrity Operation Transformation – Five more celebrities take on the Operation Transformation challenge.
Viewers can also look forward to the return of Today with Maura and Daithí, First Dates Ireland, Home of the Year, Getaways with new presenter Tommy Bowe; Desperate Houses with new presenter Roisín Murphy; and Operation Transformation in the new year.
On RTÉ2 younger viewers can look forward new 26 part comedy series Drop Dead Weird, starring David Rawle (Moone Boy) and Pauline McLynn (Father Ted) as an Australian family get to grips with their kooky Irish grandfather and recently zombified parents.
This September sees 20 year old journalism graduate Zainab Boladale join Tommy Meskill as presenters of News2day, RTÉ’s news programme for younger viewers on RTÉ2.
Sports fans have a lot to look forward to this season with brand new series and documentaries offering an insight into Irish sport. Highlights include;
* Ireland’s Greatest – Presented by Des Cahill and Evanne Ní Chuilinn, Ireland’s Greatest calls on the public to choose the greatest ever Irish sporting moment from the 1960s to the 2000s.
* Blues Sisters – For the first time RTÉ Sport goes behind the scenes with a women’s sports team as our cameras follow a season in the life of the Dublin Ladies Footballers
* All-Ireland Day – Hurling – A look at the essence of a very special day in the Irish sporting calendar, the All Ireland Hurling final, by following a select group of characters all with their vested interests in the big day. From the makers of 2015’s All Ireland Day – Football.
* Darragh Maloney will once again celebrate the heroes of Irish sport at The RTÉ Sports Awards and Jacqui Hurley returns to host a new series of Know the Score.
RTÉ will also be offering extensive live coverage of major sporting events along with our national games and national teams in action.
* Women’s Rugby World Cup Final on August 26
* Guinness Series – Irish men’s Rugby team take on South Africa, Fiji and Argentina at the Aviva Stadium in November
* Women’s 6 Nations, begins February
* The All-Ireland Hurling Final, September 3
* The All-Ireland Camogie Final, September 10
* The All-Ireland Football Final, September 17
* The Republic of Ireland’s European Qualifiers for FIFA World Cup 2018 against Serbia, Georgia, Moldova and Wales